The ancient origins of cumin signify its well-established status as a coveted ingredient around the globe. You'll find it in a variety of dishes that originated in India, Mexico, America, and countless other countries. Cumin is a spice used in both whole and ground form. Like most spices, it begins to lose potency once ground, so whole cumin remains flavorful and fragrant for a longer period than its ground counterpart. When stored in an airtight container in a cool location, whole cumin can last up to four years, although the strength may fade within six months. By contrast, similarly stored ground cumin can last between three months and three years.
The USDA states, "Ground spices lose their aroma and flavor more quickly, so it's wise to buy them in small quantities." However, as a shelf-stable product, properly stored spices never truly go bad or become rancid. Instead, they lose intensity of flavor. Test both whole and ground cumin during use with a sniff test. If you can't detect a scent, it's time for a replacement.
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How To Store Whole Cumin Seeds
Store-bought whole cumin seeds can remain in the same container for storage at home. If you buy whole cumin seeds from a spice vendor or in the bulk section of your market, transfer them from bags to an airtight container once you get home. Keeping your seeds away from light, air, and moisture will protect them from degrading prematurely, so rely on jars or other containers with tightly fitting lids.
Place your container in a cool, dark place like a cupboard or drawer. Don't store your whole cumin seed too close to a heat source, and be sure to shield the container from exposure to light. Moisture can lead to the deterioration of cumin seeds and the development of mold, so if you live in a very warm and humid climate, you can also store whole cumin seeds in the refrigerator or freezer. Be sure to stay on top of your spice drawer inventory to avoid duplicates, and regularly assess the freshness of your cumin seeds so they don't go to waste.
How To Store Ground Cumin
Like whole cumin seeds, store ground cumin in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dark place. Since ground cumin has a shorter shelf life than whole cumin seeds, label your container with a purchase date to monitor its age. Depending on the freshness when you bought it, you may find your ground cumin loses potency within a few months after getting it home.
Grind your own from whole cumin seeds for the most aromatic and longest-lasting ground cumin. You can prepare a small container's worth if you use it frequently or grind what your recipe calls for as you need it. To make ground cumin from whole cumin seeds, simply toast the seeds in a very hot pan for a few minutes. Once toasted, use a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle to convert the seeds into a powder. If you grind more than you use, label it and properly store it for next time.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.